A Journey Through Ryan Gosling’s Filmography – Part 2: 2011-2018
Welcome to the second half of our journey through Ryan Gosling’s filmography. In the first half we started from the very beginning with his first feature film role in Remember the Titans (2000) all the way up to All Good Things (2010) and now we continue from Drive, all the way up to his most recent film, First Man, all the way back in 2018.
In Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, Gosling plays a mysterious car mechanic and Hollywood stuntman, who moonlights as a getaway driver. After falling for his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), the pair become close until her husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is released from prison. When Gosling’s ‘driver’ discovers Standard is still mixed up with his criminal past, he attempts to help him as his getaway in order to ensure Irene and her child are safe.
As Jakob wrote in his review for the film for us a few years back, Drive is now seen as one of the most iconic, intriguing and clever films of the last decade and that doesn’t look to change any time soon. Everything about this film works so perfectly together, from the score to the cinematography, and the brilliant performances from everyone involved.
Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
After Cal (Steve Carell) is hit with news that his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) wants a divorce after 20 years of marriage, he struggles to move on. That is, until, he meets Jacob Palmer (Gosling) who takes him under his wing and helps Cal embrace the bachelor lifestyle by giving him a makeover and teaching him how to talk to women. After Jacob falls for a young woman named Hannah (Emma Stone), Cal is left to his own devices – but fate, it seems, has other plans.
I only watched this film for the fist time last year and let me tell you, the big reveal scene became an instant all-timer for me. It never fails to brings me to absolute tears of laughter. I couldn’t resist finding a clip of this film for this piece, but if you haven’t seen the film before I wholeheartedly recommend watching it in context of the film beforehand to get the full effect.
The Ides of March (2011)
The Ides of March marked George Clooney’s fourth directorial effort and featured an impressive cast. Gosling was joined by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, and Marisa Tomei, and Clooney. Gosling plays Stephen Meyers, an idealistic campaign worker for Governor and presidential candidate, Mike Morris (Clooney). During the campaign, Meyers is offered a job for Morris’ opponent and an intern for Morris has a secret that could derail his campaign, and Meyers isn’t sure how to navigate the situations he finds himself in along the way.
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
Two years after working together on Blue Valentine, Gosling and director Derek Cianfrance team back up for The Place Beyond The Pines, which gives us what is most probably Gosling’s most iconic look of his career. It’s also the film in which Gosling met his partner Eva Mendes. The couple, who are extremely private about their personal lives, have been together for a decade and have two children.
Blonde-haired and heavily tattooed Gosling plays Luke, a carnival motorcycle stunt performer who tries to reconnect with former partner, Romina (Mendes), whilst in town. Romina reveals she had Luke’s child after he left and so Luke leaves the carnival and tries to find a steady job so he can support Romina and his child. However, Luke turns to crime in order to make money fast and crosses paths with police officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), whose life will be changed following the events that bring him and Luke together.
Gangster Squad (2012)
Ruben Fleischer assembled one heck of a cast for Gangster Squad. Joining Gosling in this 40’s gangster flick are Sean Penn, Giovanni Ribisi, Josh Brolin, Michael Peña, Anthony Mackie, and Emma Stone.
Malicious mobster Mickey Cohen (Penn) runs Los Angeles and Sgt. John O’Mara (Brolin) is determined to bring the corruption in the city to an end. To do so, he assembles a team of cops (including Gosling’s Sgt. Jerry Wooters) to finally restore peace to the city.
At the time of writing this, it has been a few weeks since I watched this, and I couldn’t tell you a thing about it other than I really enjoyed it at the time and the costume and production designs were brilliant. It’s definitely a film I’m going to revisit again soon.
Only God Forgives (2013)
In Nicolas Winding Refn’s brutal and violent Only God Forgives, Gosling plays a drug-smuggler named Julian who owns a boxing club as a front for his drugs operation. After the death of his brother, Julian sets out to find who killed him, at his mother’s (Kristin Scott Thomas) request.
This was only my second viewing of the film and I still couldn’t tell you if I ‘like’ the film or not, and I can see why it’s pretty polarising, but again, it’s one I want to revisit in the near future. I would agree with those that say this is Winding Refn’s least accessible film, but it’s definitely worth giving it a shot.
Lost River (2014) (Directorial Debut)
Even though he doesn’t star in it, I figured this marathon was a good excuse as any to check out Gosling’s 2014 directorial effort, Lost River, which stars Christina Hendricks, Ben Mendelsohn, Saoirse Ronan, Matt Smith, and Eva Mendes.
Lost River is a dark fairy tale about love, family, and the fight for survival in the face of danger. In the virtually abandoned city of Lost River, Billy (Hendricks), a single mother of two, is led into a macabre underworld in her quest to save her childhood home and hold her family together. Her teenage son Bones (Iain De Caestecker) discovers a mystery about the origins of Lost River that triggers his curiosity and sets into motion an unexpected journey that will test his limits and the limits of those he loves.
The Big Short (2015)
Adam McKay’s Oscar-winning The Big Short is a biographical comedy-drama featuring three separate but concurrent stories about the financial crisis of 2007/08 that was triggered by the United States housing bubble. The film features a strong cast which includes Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Brad Pitt, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Finn Wittrock Marisa Tomei, and a very memorable cameo from Margot Robbie. Gosling plays Jared Vennett, a salesman from Deutsche Bank who attempts to make a profit from the disaster that’s about to happen.
The Nice Guys (2016)
Shane Black’s The Nice Guys is Exhibit A when it comes to the argument that Gosling needs to be cast in more comedies. His performance as Holland March remains one of my favourite performances of his to date.
Set against the backdrop of 1977 Los Angeles, Holland March is a private investigator who’s path happens to cross that of Jackson Healey (Russell Crowe), another PI but one who uses less conventional methods to get the job done. The pair work together to investigate the death of famous porn star, Misty Mountains, and they uncover a huge conspiracy plot in the process. With the help of March’s daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice), the PIs stumble and shoot their way to discovering the truth.
It has been 5 years since this film came into our lives and there’s nothing I wouldn’t give to get a sequel. There’s so much potential for the pair, and it would be a real shame to let the comedic chemistry between Gosling and Crowe go to waste.
La La Land (2016)
Damien Chazelle’s sophomore feature, La La Land, landed Gosling his second ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role’ nomination (his first being, Half Nelson), but it was Casey Affleck who went home that year for his performance in Manchester by the Sea. Let’s not even get into the Best Picture hiccup.
Gosling plays jazz musician, Sebastian, who dreams of one day opening up a jazz club (which he is determined to call ‘Chicken on a Stick’) but is currently struggling to find work. Mia (Emma Stone) is a young actress who’s dream is to make it big in Hollywood like the people she serves coffee to in the studio lot coffee shop she currently works in. After the pair waste a lovely night together, their romance beings to blossom, but so do their respective career aspirations. Mia and Seb’s futures appear to be taking them in different directions from one another and puts their once in a lifetime love to the test.
La La Land became an instant favourite of mine, and I lost count how many times I went to see it in the cinema when it eventually arrived in the UK. I even attended a live orchestra version during its UK tour, which was just as wonderful as it sounds. I fall in love with the film all over again with each watch, even though the epilogue is watched through tear-filled eyes.
Song to Song (2017)
With Gosling, Fassbender, Mara, Portman, Blanchett in its roster, I thought going into Song to Song (which I haven’t ever really heard anything about) I was going to be in for a treat – but sadly the only thing I felt from this film was boredom. The story follows two couples, Faye (Mara) and BV (Gosling) who are both struggling songwriters, and music mogul Cook (Fassbender) and a waitress (Portman) who he meets. The couple’s lives (and their relationships) become entangled as they attempt to find success.
This was my first foray into Terrence Malick’s filmography, and it most likely might be my last if his other films are as dull (for me, at least) as this. Song to Song without a doubt sits at the bottom of my rankings of Gosling’s filmography and you would have to pay me a large sum to get me to sit through that again.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Following almost being put to sleep by Song to Song, I couldn’t have asked for a better film to help me forget about it than sticking on Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 (and in 4K no less!) – which was one of my absolute favourite films of 2017.
Gosling plays K, a replicant working at the LAPD as a blade runner, hunting down and killing rogue replicants. After discovering a female replicant has given birth, something thought to be impossible, K is tasked to hunt down the child. K’s investigation leads him to Deckard (Harrison Ford) who has been hiding out in the ruins of Las Vegas following the events of the first film. The pair are hunted down by the Wallace Corporation, run by Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), who want to learn how the secret of replicant reproduction in order to help them expand interstellar colonisation.
I will use any excuse to share this hilarious BR2049 interview.
First Man (2018)
My final stop in Gosling’s filmography to date is, of course, Damien Chazelle’s First Man, in which Gosling plays the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong. The film explores the years leading up to the lunar landing, including Armstrong’s personal life and the frustration behind the scenes at NASA.
To me, First Man is a perfect film and was the best way to end this journey through Gosling’s acting career so far. The score by Justin Hurwitz is still a regular on my Spotify and it genuinely couldn’t have been more perfect if it tried.
It’s been THREE years since we last saw Gosling on the big screen, but thankfully we don’t have much longer to wait until he’s back! Gosling is currently in the middle of filming Anthony & Joe Russo’s Netflix action-thriller The Gray Man, which also stars Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Alfre Woodward, and Billy Bob Thornton.
His other upcoming projects include the titular role in Universal’s Wolfman, which is set to be directed by Leigh Whannell, NEON mystery-thriller The Actor, and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller’s Project Hail Mary about an astronaut who tries to save Earth while alone in outer space. Gosling is also attached to an as-yet-untitled David Leitch project.
A few years ago, Gosling was attached as a producer on a couple of projects, the details of which are still limited. One of the projects is an adaptation of Jeff Lemire’s The New York Times bestseller The Underwater Welder.
Thank God that The Gos will soon be back where he belongs.